Like many small business success stories, Bjorn’s Brew started with a dream. And Leslie Corbett, owner of Bjorn’s Brew Gourmet Coffee, says that dream was to one day be in the coffee business. But in a somewhat ironic plot-twist for the small business owner, Corbett says it wasn’t actually her dream.
“Since the first day I met my husband,” she says, “he’s always wanted to do something with coffee.” She relays the tale with an enthusiasm for the back story of coffee entrepreneurship: they had dabbled in it before. Her husband is in real-estate development, and she’s an interior designer by trade. Which, as a side-note, explains the chic and stylish décor of the Bjorn’s new digs in South Salt Lake – from eclectic light fixtures to framed animal pictures and seating that somehow feel open-concept and cozy all in the same space.
“It’s funny how things comes full circle,” she says. So when the opportunity to purchase the original Bjorn’s Brews drive-thru on Foothill Boulevard came up, the timing and circumstances were right. So she took on the project, immersed herself in coffee culture (“I learned how to make all the drinks,” she notes) and brought changes to the original location to make it more pronounced – adding shipping containers that were built off-property and then dropped by crane overnight so that Bjorn’s never had to close a day for business.
Her deep-dive paid off. She decided to keep the name and the logo: both were from Bjorn’s original owner. But also took her own unique spin, and ultimately launching the Bjorn’s brand to the next level. The “Drink Coffee. Save Animals.” mantra means that for every full punch card, $1 is donated animal charities. To date, Bjorn’s has donated thousands.
But beyond charities, Bjorn’s also highlights animals throughout their community with a “Pet of the Week” featured on Instagram and the winner’s human gets free coffee for the week: cats, birds, ferrets and all creatures great and small qualify. Though Corbett says it’s a pretty popular contest, so expect a wait-list to accompany your furry, feathered or scaly submission.
At Bjorn’s new South Salt Lake location, which was financed with help from Mountain West Small Business Finance using the SBA504 program, the joint still has the requisite Bjorn’s drive-thru, but the brick-and-mortar café-style coffeehouse brings an entirely new element to the company. As far as Bjorn’s future? Corbett says they’re already looking for a third location to continue expanding.
Sounds like a great reason to sit back, and celebrate with a cup-a-joe. Actually, make that a “Lola Latté.”
The original Bjorn’s Brew drive-thru location is at 2358 Foothill Drive in Salt Lake City. Visit their new storefront in South Salt Lake at 2165 So. State Street. Find out more at www.bjornsbrew.com.